The U.S. government shutdown blocked the release of September’s national unemployment rate, but other economic data released Friday shed light on the region’s struggles to boost employment.

Cape May County had 300 fewer total jobs in August compared with the year before, a less than 1 percent drop, as the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate reached 13.1 percent, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported Friday.

The region was one of only three in a 24-metro area of New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania to experience a decline in nonfarm payroll employment during that period, the latest county-level data available.

Atlantic County fared better in August, when employment grew to 137,800, about a 1.5 percent increase from August 2012, according to Fed data. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 12 percent, nominally better than in July.

Meanwhile, leisure and hospitality employment in the county was nearly unchanged in August from one year ago — at 47,400 jobs.

In Cumberland County, jobs grew by 600 in August, as the unemployment rate reached 12.5 percent.

The first Friday of the month is typically an oft-watched day when the U.S. unemployment rate is released, with the potential of major stock market swings depending on the news and how it is interpreted by investors.

But the federal shutdown put the kibosh on September unemployment figures.

Even the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said it had to gather some of its August data from state departments of labor instead of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics due to the shutdown.

Nationally, economists and investors have been relying on other means for a glimpse of the economy’s health.

Payroll processor ADP, of Roseland, on Wednesday reported U.S. businesses added 166,000 jobs in September, less than economists had forecast.

Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pa., and owner of a Margate home, called the job gains disappointing but not surprising.

Mid-sized businesses added only 28,000 jobs in September, much fewer than the nearly 60,000 per month in the prior three months, Naroff said, while small and larger businesses added jobs at a solid pace.

“The private sector continues to add jobs sluggishly but rising want ads may indicate improving conditions ahead,” Naroff said in a statement, referencing the Conference Board’s Help Wanted Online survey released Wednesday.

Online advertised vacancies rose to nearly 5.2 million in September, up nearly 210,000 and the largest monthly rise this year, the New York-based Conference Board reported.

“The 210,000 gain for September is the first optimistic sign this year that employers are seeking additional workers,” June Shelp, the vice president of the Conference Board, said in a statement.

The largest monthly gains were openings for food service workers, management positions and transportation workers, according to the Conference Board, a business and research association. Declines were reported in legal workers and office occupations.

Contact Brian Ianieri:

609-272-7253

Unemployment rates, seasonally adjusted

    Aug.    July    Aug. 2012

Cape May    13.1 percent    12.6    14.2

Atlantic    12 percent    11.8    13.7

Cumberland    12.5 percent    12.2    14.6

New Jersey    8.5 percent    8.6    9.7

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

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